Top 7 tips for communicating to air travelers in 2021...and beyond
The results are in!
Customer sentiment and purchase drivers have never been more uncertain than they are right now. During ATPCO’s recent The New Reality of Flight Shopping summit, sales channels revealed how they are informing and reassuring travelers—rather than pushing them to travel before they are ready.
In a bid to understand what motivates different types of flight shoppers around the world, we surveyed a sample of travelers drawn from different age groups with different profiles. Respondents ranged from very frequent travelers to those who fly less than once a year, including people who have flown during the pandemic.*
This is what we wanted to know: How do travelers really feel about contactless? What types of indirect channels are flight shoppers rewarding with their business? Could lounge access now be more important than seat comfort? What airline COVID-19 measures do travelers most value? To find out more about your customers, read on.
Flight shoppers want more. Of everything. They want more detailed information, more choice, and more media to help them make an informed decision about which flight to book. In our survey, the desire for more information was correlated with how often respondents flew—the more they traveled, the more information they wanted.
We found that 81% of respondents, especially those who hadn’t yet flown during the pandemic, prefer to see visuals of the flight experience during shopping, including 52% who want both image and text, versus 19% who wanted just text.
More customers are seeking targeted visuals and messaging, possibly in response to the pandemic. In January 2021, 78% of customers stated that targeted visuals and messaging in a flight shopping display made them more likely to book, up from 62% in January 2020.
New health-related traveling requirements vary by origin and destination and are subject to frequent and sudden change. Uncertainty around such requirements presents a real barrier to travel.
Over the second half of 2020, 69% of respondents had researched health requirements on their own. Those who researched health requirements the most were the most frequent travelers and those who have flown during the pandemic.
Notably, over a quarter (26%) of those surveyed have moved to a different flight booking website because it had better safety information. Safety information wasn’t important to a mere 8% of respondents.
When your travelers want to know more about the specific details of an airline offer, ATPCO's Routehappy Content can help to communicate relevant information with targeted messaging and visual content, as in this example:
In all previous customer surveys, legroom and seat comfort had been of greatest interest to travelers. Nowadays, COVID-19 safety measures are the priority, especially the availability of testing and requirements for mask wearing. Though many lounges remain closed, the relative importance of information about lounge access has grown dramatically as travelers seek more personal space—despite restriction of lounge offerings such as food and beverage.
Most travelers were reassured by wording that emphasizes cleanliness at all customer touchpoints. Mentioning the provision of antiseptic wipes alongside an airline meal was reassuring to 71% of respondents, especially to more frequent travelers and those aged over 55 years.
Technical terms commonly adopted by airlines for their reassurance messaging, such as “hospital-grade” and “electrostatic cleaning” were broadly found to be reassuring, although the term “HEPA filter” was only understood by 11% of respondents.
We tested whether survey respondents understood the term “contactless,” which has become more pervasive during the pandemic.
Respondents generally correctly associated the word “contactless” with social distancing and as a precautionary measure to eliminate human-to-human touching or the need to touch a machine. Contactless options were generally felt to be positive, promoting safety and a seamless experience. However, some respondents associated the term with a lack of information or scarcity of attendants.
In the survey, 75% of respondents considered contactless options to be extremely or very important, especially younger travelers and those who fly more frequently, including those traveling during the pandemic.
We peeked into the future and found that 58% of respondents would like to see the requirement to wear a mask while at the airport and onboard extended beyond the pandemic. Safeguarding health seems the paramount concern to respondents looking to travel post-pandemic.
While travel has stalled for the past year, people's environmental awareness has not. As travel revives, travelers care not only about health and safety but also about climate change.
In fact, sustainability is more important to 60% of respondents since COVID-19, possibly because of the increase in extreme weather events over the past year. It could also be due to an increased sense of responsibility for our ecosystem prompted by the pandemic. Meanwhile, 22% of travelers’ attitudes remain unchanged from pre-pandemic days, and 18% of respondents report that sustainability is less important since COVID-19.
Flight shoppers are most interested in learning about what airlines are doing to offset their carbon footprints, rather than how they themselves can participate in offset programs.
ATPCO’s Routehappy Content can help you to promote traveler and travel agent confidence. Starting is easy—reach out to us today!
*ATPCO survey of 370 respondents aged over 18 from 15 countries representing Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, and North America conducted [January 2021]